Sara De Vido (Università Ca' Foscari Venezia)
Patricio Ignacio Barbirotto (Università Ca' Foscari Venezia)


From 13:30
to 15:00
From 13:30
to 15:00

Course description
The purpose of the course is to study the effects of globalization from an international human rights law perspective, taking into account the ethical problems involved, for example, in the adoption of policies in times of emergencies and in the activities of transnational corporations. The course will provide some basic notions of international law and international human rights law. The students will be able to critically analyse the jurisprudence of regional human rights courts and the quasi-jurisprudence of United Nations (UN) treaty bodies related to the topics at the core of the course and to discuss them.

The course will start with a general part providing a brief overview of some traditional notions of international law, such as State and “international community”, in order to understand how this community has developed over the centuries, facing the challenges posed by globalization. It will then delve into the analysis of the human rights system both at the international (UN) and regional level. Judgments taken from the European Court of Human Rights, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the African Court of Human Rights, along with the decisions of UN treaty bodies (Human Rights Committee, for example) will be analysed and discussed in class. The absence of a mechanism of individual complaints for human rights violations in Asia and Australia will be object of discussion as well. While analysing judgments of regional courts and decision of UN human rights bodies, ethical considerations will be taken into account, especially in light of the reasoning of the judges, and will enrich the debate.

After providing the background on how the different systems work, the course will focus on different topics (others might be added according to the students’ interest): “democracy and human rights”; “business, ethics and human rights”, dealing with the activity of transnational corporations and their alleged violations of human rights especially in least developed countries; “human rights, global health and health emergencies”, analysing both the effects of the crises on human rights and the effects of the response to the crises on human rights; “reproductive rights”; “environmental human rights” (in particular the affirmation of the right of human and non-human beings to a healthy environment); “human rights in times of armed conflicts”. The different topics are interconnected and the course will highlight this aspect throughout the classes.

The course will also equip the students with the skills to ‘simulate’ a procedure in front of one of the analysed jurisdictions, filing a mock complaint and preparing a memoire to support the case.


Learning outcomes
At the end of the course the students:

1) should demonstrate knowledge and understanding in international law, with specific regard to human rights and environmental law;

2) could apply their knowledge and understanding in a manner that indicates a professional approach to their possible work or vocation (internships and work in NGOs, international organisations, agencies, etc), in particular concerning the mechanisms of protection of human rights;

3) should have the ability to gather and interpret relevant legal instruments (both soft and hard law) of the present situation to elaborate legal reasonings that include reflection on relevant legal and political issues;

4) could communicate information, ideas, problems and solutions to both specialist and non-specialist audiences;

5) should have developed those learning skills that are necessary for them to continue to undertake more advanced courses or further study with a high degree of autonomy.


Teaching methods
The course will include lectures, seminars and the projection of documentaries (if possible). During the seminars, the students are invited to prepare the readings related to the topic (readings can be documents, judgments, short papers). The purpose is to discuss the topic during an open debate once a week or once every two weeks. Interaction is highly encouraged. Students are invited to propose issues that have been raised in their country of origin.
There is no prerequisite for the course: even without a background in law, students will be able to follow the analysis because the course will provide the basic legal knowledge to follow it.


Evaluation methods
10 % participation during seminars (debate, analysis of the documents, etc.)

30% Mid-term assessment: the analysis of a judgment or views and discussion in class.

60 % Final assessment: a paper (around 5000 words, footnotes included) on one or more cases pertaining to a specific topic at their choice. The topic must be notified to the professor, who will assess the compatibility with the course


Readings will be recommended during the course.

D. Shelton, Advanced Introduction to International Human Rights Law (Cheltenham: Elgar, 2014). Chapters: 1,3,4,5,6,7.
S. De Vido, Violence against Women’s Health in International Law (Manchester University press, 2020). At least chapter 2 and 3. Free download here:
O. De Schutter, International Human Rights Law, Cambridge University Press, 2.ed., 2014, part I and III.
A. Gallagher, The International Law of Migrant Smuggling, Cambridge University Press, 2014.
E. Brems, A. Timmer, Stereotypes and Human Rights Law, Intersentia, 2016.
C. Stone, Should Trees Have Standing? Law, Morality, and the Environment, 3.ed., Oxford University Press, 2010.


Last updated: January 22, 2024


Isola di San Servolo
30133 Venice,

phone: +39 041 2719511
fax:+39 041 2719510

VAT: 02928970272